Saturday, November 7, 2009

Discovering Italian Vegetables...

When I moved to Switzerland I tried to find a German translation for kale, my favorite leafy green. Googling did not help. When shopping I spotted a prickly green that looked a lot like dinosaur kale, called Wirz. I took it home, cooked it up happily, but noted the texture seemed a little tougher almost like collards....because it's not kale. It's actually savoy cabbage, popular in Italy and one of several new veggies that have become a staple for me.

The second was even more eye-catching - the beautiful geometric wonder of Romanesco broccoli. Also from Italy, it is in the broccoli/cauliflower family and in fact also referred to as Roman cauliflower. Sort of broccoli and cauliflowers gorgeous love child :) and so tender it's perfectly crunchy raw or lightly blanched.

Savoy Salad w/ Fried Shiitake Mushrooms and Toasted Seeds

1.5 cups of savoy cabbage or kale
3-4 large fresh heads of shiitake mushrooms
1 small red onion
1 - 2 T seeds and/or nuts (I used walnuts and pumpkin seeds)
2 T + 1 t olive oil
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 drop Stevia liquid (optional)
dry mustard powder
sea salt

  • Wash the cabbage (or kale if using), squeeze, and cut into strips. Then whisk together about 1.5 T of the olive oil with the vinegar, Stevia, mustard and salt. Set aside.

  • Slice the mushrooms medium/thin and dice the red onions.

  • Heat a medium pan and add seeds, toasting for a few minutes. Remove from heat.

  • In the same pan, warm remaining oil (or a pat of butter if you like!) and add the onions and mushrooms. Sautée for roughly 5 minutes before removing from heat.

  • Toss together the cabbage, onions, mushrooms, seeds and vinegraitte. The warm/cool contrast is what makes this great.
Romanesco Broccoli & Savoy Slaw

1.5 cups of savoy cabbage
1 head of Romanesco broccoli
1 small red onion
1 small clove of garlic, minced (optional)
2 T plain yogurt
1 T homemade mayonnaise
1 t apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 t dry mustard powder
1/4 t garlic salt (or plain sea salt if using fresh garlic)

  • Blanch the cabbage for 1-2 minutes in boiling water. Remove to ice water to cool, and blanch the Romanesco for 3 minutes. Remove to ice water.
  • While the vegetables blanch, mix together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard powder, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt. Chill.
  • Dice the red onion, and wring excess water from cooled cabbage.
  • Toss it all together and enjoy!

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